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There are several dog breeds prone to hip dysplasia. Simply explained, hip dysplasia is loosening of the hip joint that results in joint pain and impaired mobility.

This common genetic orthopedic condition is not a life-threatening condition, but it decreases the dog's quality of life.

In this article, we will talk about dog breeds with hip dysplasia. We will start by explaining hip dysplasia - what it is and how it impacts dogs.

 Then, we will go through some detailed info on predisposed dog breeds and cover what can be done to reduce its incidence.

What is Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is a congenital deformity of the hip joint. The hip joint is a ball and socket type of joint comprising the head of the femur (as the ball) and the pelvic acetabulum (as the socket).

Under normal circumstances, to form a normal joint, the head of the femur and the acetabulum grow at uniform rates.

 In dogs with hip dysplasia, such uniformity does not exist, and the two structures grow independently.

As a result, the hip joint becomes loose (or dysplastic).

 To manage the laxity or looseness of the hip joint, the body triggers degenerative changes, which culminate in osteoarthritis.

Basically, all dogs with hip dysplasia will develop osteoarthritis at the hip joints at some point. 

Both hip dysplasia and arthritis are marked by pain, lameness, and impaired mobility.

X-ray of dog with hip dysplasia.  

X-ray of dog with hip dysplasia.  

Dog Breeds That Are Prone to Hip Dysplasia 

As mentioned, some dog breeds are more likely to have hip dysplasia than others. 

In general, the risk of hip dysplasia is higher in large and giant breeds. However, some tiny dogs are susceptible too. Here is a short review of the hip dysplasia predisposed dog breeds.

 1: German Shepherds

The German Shepherd is the first breed that comes to mind when talking about hip dysplasia.

 In fact, German Shepherds are prone to a combination of hip problems – dysplasia and degenerative myelopathy of the hind limbs.

 Hip dysplasia problems in German Shepherds usually start later in life, around the age of seven.

2: Golden Retrievers

Another dog breed frequently diagnosed with hip dysplasia is the Golden Retriever.

 This lovely canine is also prone to weight gain and obesity, thus aggravating the hip problem. 

Some Golden Retrievers start experiencing hip dysplasia issues when several months old and others much later when already seniors.

3: Labrador Retrievers

In terms of health profiles, Labrador Retrievers are similar to Golden Retrievers. 

Labradors are likely to develop hip dysplasia at some point in their lives, and the weight gain proneness is an aggravating factor. 

Limping, reluctance to be physically active and clicking sounds while walking are the telltale signs of hip dysplasia.

 4: Chesapeake Bay Retrievers

Hip dysplasia is more common among fast-growing dogs prone to weight gain, and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are the ideal example.

 This otherwise healthy dog is prone to hip dysplasia, just like its cousins, the Labrador and Golden Retriever.

5: Saint Bernard Dogs

Due to its huge size, the Saint Bernard Dog is susceptible to a range of degenerative joint conditions, including hip dysplasia. 

Weight management and healthy dietary choices from an early point in life are critical for proper hip dysplasia management in this breed.

6: Newfoundland Dogs

Considering the gigantic measurements of Newfoundland, it is no wonder this dog is prone to hip dysplasia. 

The fast-growing rate is the main risk factor, but other contributing factors include irregular exercise regimens, poor dietary choices, and slippery surfaces.

 7: Pugs

It may be surprising to meet this tiny dog among larger relatives, but the Pug is very likely to suffer from hip dysplasia.

 In Pugs, the issue is apparent from an early stage in life and manifests with limping and weight shifting while walking and standing.

8: English and French Bulldogs

Due to irresponsible and selective breeding, short-faced (brachycephalic) dogs like English and French Bulldogs are prone to a variety of health issues, including poorly fitting joints (hips, knees, and elbows).

 Bulldogs usually start showing hip dysplasia signs early in life.

 9: Corgis

Another small dog with huge hip dysplasia issues is the Corgi. Cardigan and Pembroke Welsh Corgis are chondrodysplastic – they have disproportionally long bodies and short limbs.

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 As a result of the abnormal body conformation, the weight-bearing joints are under constant and excess pressure. In Corgis, even mild hip dysplasia can result in severe osteoarthritis.

10: Boxers

Boxers are riddled with diseases and health issues. Sadly, hip dysplasia is one of them. 

Despite their relatively average size, Boxers are prone to hip dysplasia which may become apparent either early on or during adulthood.

11: Rottweilers

As a large dog breed, members of the Rottweiler family are frequently diagnosed with hip dysplasia. 

Rottweilers with hip dysplasia are likely to show signs early on and usually in the form of intermittent limping and leaning to one side.

Swimming is great for dogs with hip dysplasia

Swimming is great for dogs with hip dysplasia

Steps to Prevent Hip Dysplasia in Dogs 

The first step for preventing hip dysplasia is OFA screening. Let’s start by covering what OFA screening is and what it entails.

OFA screening refers to the process of evaluating the dog's hips through radiographic images. 

Namely, the dog is mildly sedated (to achieve muscle relaxation) and positioned in a specific way before taking the x-ray. Then, the image is sent to The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), which will grade the hips and issue a certificate.

Based on the image results, OFA grades the dog’s hips into several categories – normal (excellent, good, and fair) hips, borderline hips, and dysplastic (mild, moderate, and severe) hips.

OFA Grades of Hip Dysplasia 

Following are the several different grades of hip dysplasia in dogs based on OFA grading system. 

Excellent (FCI or European Grade A1): the hip joints show superior conformation, with the femoral head deep-seated into a well-formed acetabulum. The joint space between the two structures is minimal.

Good (FCI or European Grade A2): less than superior conformation, but stull well-formed with congruent hip joint structures. The femoral ball fits snuggly into the socket, and there is good coverage.

Fair (FCI or European Grade B1): there are minor irregularities, and the femoral head is slightly wider than the socket. The socket can appear to be slightly shorter and shallower than it should be.

Borderline (FCI or European Grade B2): the hip joint is not clear and shows a level of incongruence. However, there are no visible arthritic changes, and the joint cannot be classified as dysplastic.

Mild (FCI or European Grade C): there is significant subluxation, and the femoral head is partially out of the acetabulum resulting in increased joint space. The socket is too shallow and only partially covers the femoral ball.

Moderate (FCI or European Grade D): the femoral ball barely sits in the shallow hip socket. There are also visible secondary arthritis changes such as remodeling, osteophytes (bone spurs), and sclerosis.

Severe (FCI or European Grade E): the evidence of hip dysplasia is clear and striking. The femoral head is partially or completely out of the short and shallow hip socket. There are also significant arthritis changes on the acetabular rims, femoral head, and femoral neck.

What to Do If a Dog Has Hip Dysplasia?

If the dog’s hips are graded as dysplastic, it is advisable to remove the dog from breeding programs as its offspring is highly likely to have hip dysplasia. 

As for the dog itself, hip dysplasia cannot be treated or reversed. However, there are some things you can do to manage the situation and delay the onset of severe stages that would require surgical correction.

 1: Weight Management

When dealing with any joint issue, weight management is brick and mortar. 

This is because increased body weight puts extra pressure on the dog's already compromised joints. 

If your dog has hip dysplasia, monitor its body weight and entail a special program – strict diet and physical activity (in accordance with the dog's abilities considering the hip problem).

2: Physical Therapy

The next step in hip dysplasia management is physical therapy. Physical therapy is an umbrella term that covers various options. 

Hip dysplasia dogs benefit most from hydrotherapy (swimming and underwater treadmills). 

Swimming is the first choice because it allows the dog to be active (keeps it moving and strengthens the legs) without adding pressure on the joints. In simple words, it is a win-win activity.

 3: Joint Supplements

The pet market is overloaded with joint supplements. Talk to your trusted veterinarian about which supplement is best for the dog's hips.

 Generally speaking, a good joint supplement will feature several ingredients such as chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine HCL, hyaluronic acid, MSM, Green Lipped Mussels, fish oil, Boswellia serrata extracts, turmeric, etc. 

Joint supplements are available in different forms (powders, soft chews, tablets, liquids). You should choose a supplement that is easy for you to give and acceptable for your dog.

Concluding Thoughts 

All in all, hip dysplasia is a widespread congenital condition, and despite its non-life-threatening character, it is a serious problem. 

The best way or preventing hip dysplasia is by breeding dogs with healthy joints.

If you are interested in getting a puppy from a hip dysplasia predisposed breed, check both parents’ OFA certificates. 

Also, be a responsible dog owner and have your puppy screened as well when it comes to age. 

Photo Credits: Hip displasia in dog, Joelmills, Wikipedia, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license

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